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PARIS, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A European spacecraft orbiting Mars has captured new images of one of the solar system's most dramatic geological features, scientists say.
Valles Marineris on Mars is a chasm 125 miles wide, more than 6 miles deep and stretching for almost 2,500 miles, making it the largest canyon in the solar system.
It is 10 times longer and five times deeper than Earth's Grand Canyon, a release from the Paris headquarters of the European Space Agency said Monday.
The canyon's formation is likely linked with the formation of the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, scientists said.
Volcanic activity is indicated by the nature of the rocks in the walls of the canyon and the surrounding plains, which were built by successive lava flows, they said.
Strong water flows may have reshaped the chasm after it was formed, since mineralogical evidence collected by orbiting spacecraft, including Mars Express, suggests the terrain was altered by water hundreds of millions of years ago.
6 miles deep
Originally posted by Xeven
reply to post by Skywatcher2011
If Nasa had a brain they would have set Curiosity rover down in the bottom of that canyon. It is pretty obvious if there was water and life it would have been a colection basin for both providing any proof of any life if any on mars.
Just about anywhere in that canyon would yeild more science than all the locations that have landed on to date.
Water runs down hill...duhedit on 23-10-2012 by Xeven because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by Skywatcher2011
Does anyone think for it to be a possibility that aliens siphoned off all the water on MARS but left water on Earth for life to colonize instead? I mean, where else could all the water have gone from the surface on Mars?
The Sun blasts Mars with charged particles that erode its atmosphere like a desert wind scours the land. Earth's magnetic field shields us from the solar wind, and protects our atmosphere. Unfortunately, Mars lost its shield...
...So, with no magnetic shield to deflect the Sun's particles, the solar wind gradually blew the Martian atmosphere into space. Subsequently, Mars lost 70 to 90% of its water — blasted into space and the rest tied up in rocks.
Asphaug has a different explanation. Mars is small; it has one-tenth the mass of Earth. Atmospheric gas molecules move fast — some fast enough to exceed the escape velocity of the planet, especially small planets like Mars. Such gas escaped into space. That's why our Moon lacks an atmosphere; it escapes as it forms.
Another important effect: "small planets are unable to hold onto their atmospheres when subjected to a giant impact." Mars received many such impacts, especially in its early life.
So, here's the simplest explanation of an unsolved mystery: Mars may have been wet and warm once, with a thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere. Being a small planet, though, its gravitational pull was too weak to hold onto its atmosphere. The solar wind may have hastened the departure of the lightest gas — hydrogen — by breaking water into its constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen. This break down would have also accelerated the loss of water. These combined effects probably explain how Mars lost its atmosphere and water.
Then, without water vapor in the atmosphere to warm the surface, the planet cooled. Water eventually froze. This is why Mars has essentially no liquid water now.